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    Blending Web 2.0 Technologies with Traditional Formal Learning

    A Guide for CLOs and Training Managersby Thomas Stone, Product Design Architect

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    Table of Contents3 Formal Learning, Informal Learning, and Performance Support

    Formal Learning Performance SupportInformal Learning

    4 What is Web 2.0?

    4 Key Web 2.0 TechnologiesBlogs Discussion Forums Wikis Social Networking Social Bookmarking Podcasting

    7 Experts and Expertise

    8 Web 2.0 Supporting Technologies

    9 Blending Web 2.0 with Formal Learning Employee On-BoardingSales Readiness TrainingChannel and Franchise Capabilities DevelopmentHigh Potential Leadership and Management TransitionsIT Skills Development and Performance SupportDesktop Application ProductivityStrategic Job Role DevelopmentQuality ManagementProject ManagementCustomer EducationHR Compliance and Health, Safety and Environment TrainingLearning Plans for Individuals and On-Demand Learning

    10 Blending Methods

    12 Strategies for Blending Web 2.0

    13 Conclusion

    14 Resources

    Many of us have for years invest-ed in traditional training programs across a multitude of delivery options, e.g., Instructor-Led Train-ing (ILT), self-paced e-Learning courses, synchronous virtual classroom programs. As we all know, these traditional approach-es to organizational learning and training have had various levels of effectiveness and we have yet to maximize the value. Many of us have a desire to encourage and enable greater collaborative learn-ing, increase just-in-time support on the job, and enhance the use of the immense knowledge and experience locked up in our sub-ject matter experts.

    Meanwhile, in recent years youve no doubt been hearing a lot about Web 2.0 technolo-gies and methods. But how can you use them to maximize the value of your current train-ing programs?1 More than likely, you have employed Web 2.0 technologies in other contexts, but have found it a challenge to incorporate them into your organizations programs. You dont want to abandon the sig-nificant investments youve already made, and the benefits you have gained, from traditional training methods. Fortunately, this isnt a case of replacing the old with the new, but rather supplementing the current with the new to achieve your organizations learning goals in the most efficient and effective manner avail-able to you today.

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    Formal Learning, Informal Learning, and Performance Support

    Formal LearningThe dominant methods used in corporate learning and training programs today are formal learning approaches. Formal learning is learning that occurs based on a set curriculum and through a well-defined learning event. Multitasking aside, formal learning generally requires that you stop what you are doing stop your regular work activities and dedicate time to the learning experi-ence. The three most familiar approaches are:

    Instructor-led Training (ILT). Self-paced e-Learning.Synchronous virtual classroom.

    The first is very well understood by all, and for the purposes of this whitepaper doesnt require any further explanation. It has obvious benefits (e.g., interaction with an instructor) and obvious downsides (e.g., cost, inflexibility).

    Self-paced e-Learning is also fairly well understood at this point. It can vary in the level of instructional design, and the amounts of interactivity, engagement, and multimedia treatment. It can com-prise short modules or longer courses, be mostly information, or include interactive business simulations or virtual labs. And such content can be purchased off-the-shelf or be custom-built.

    The third approach listed goes by various names: Virtual Class-room, Synchronous E-Learning, and others. Numerous platforms provide features that turn standard conferencing applications into more robust learning experiences.

    Some organizations have been using one or both of the two kinds of e-Learning for many years, while others are only now shifting some of their training programs away from ILT, or blending e-Learning with ILT. But at this point, many organizations are familiar with the pros and cons of each of these tried and true formal learning methods.

    Performance SupportPerformance support is support provided directly at the time of need to improve on-the-job task performance, as opposed to learning that takes place away from the flow of work (such as most formal learning events). It is usually highly targeted, and in response to a specific task, decision, issue, error, or question that

    has arisen. Traditional examples of resources that provide perfor-mance support include paper job aids (e.g., checklists, reference cards) or a help desk reachable by phone or email. Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS) typically provide online access to a wide range of reference materials and other job aids, and are often integrated either directly with the software applica-tions they are supporting, or with Learning Management Systems (LMS) to provide an integrated formal learning and performance support solution.

    Informal LearningWhat is less familiar to many learning professionals is the con-cept of informal learning, and the important role it plays in their organizations whether they realize, enable, and support it or not. Although many definitions exist, you can generally consider informal learning to be any learning that occurs outside of the planned, and structured formal learning events described above. Consider the following:

    Searching for information on the Web or in a database.Asking questions of experts.Brainstorming and collaborating with colleagues.Using trial-and-error.

    None of these involve a pre-arranged curriculum, and they all can easily occur during the normal flow of your workindeed, they might be required as part of your work before you can continue on. There is often some overlap in peoples conceptions of performance support and informal learning, but performance sup-port mechanisms are usually intentionally created and provided to users, often by the same instructional teams that create formal learning content, while informal learning describes learner-gener-ated activity that occurs naturally.

    It is often said that 70-80% of learning in a corporation is infor-mal.2 And yet, the vast majority of resources and funds dedicated to the learning and training function go to the formal learning ap-proaches described earlier. As a result, many in recent years have started to focus on how to better enable and support informal learning. Promoting an environment in which informal learning flourishes can reap significant rewards for an organization. Not only can more informal learning occur, but it can do so in a more transparent way, rather than through less visible mechanisms. One way to do this is with new technologies, and Web 2.0 technolo-gies come into play here.

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    that are serious communication vehicles. Many organization lead-ers, e.g., CEOs and other leaders, use blogs to update employees on the latest thinking, strategy, or direction for the organization. For learning and training contexts, any formal learning event that has duration of several weeks or more (whether traditional ILT or Virtual Classroom) could benefit from having an instructor blog to provide updates and information not in the courseware. Blogs written by Subject Matter Experts can be an excellent means for spreading insights, best practices, and the latest news in a subject area. Blogs are an excellent component of a blended learning program, as an instructor can provide additional information during extended classes or as follow up after the ILT portion has concluded.

    Considerations: By their nature, blog postings are usually less formal than other corporate communications. So guidelines can be helpful to strike the balance, and in the case of a group blog, create a consistent tone. Blogs are most successful when postings are frequent, though the definition of frequent can vary (every-day, every 3 days, every 7-10 days). Ending a blog posting with a question is a good way to encourage comments. And most of all, blogs that are successful are those that put their readers first: think of what your readers want to hear, as opposed to an over-dose of marketing, sales pitches, or author-centered messages.

    What is Web 2.0?Web 2.0 refers to an evolving collection of trends and tech-nologies that foster user-generated content, user interactivity, collaboration, and information sharing. Common examples of Web 2.0 technologies include wikis, blogs, forums, podcasting, social networking, and social bookmarking (see below for more informa-tion on each). Earlier web paradigms, which in hindsight are referred to now as being Web 1.0, almost always involved a website published by individuals or organizations with few opportunities for users to add or modify the content. While discussion groups have existed for a long time, opportunities for information sharing and col-laboration were far less common in the early days of the web than they are today. Content was created by an individual webmaster, or a group of such people in an organization, and was consumed by visitors to the website. By contrast, Web 2.0 applications can generate explosive growth of content, network effects, and ben-efits that are variously described as peer production, crowdsourc-ing, and so on.3

    Key Web 2.0 TechnologiesSome technologies are paradigms of Web 2.0, some are Web 2.0 features of broader applications, and some that can be rightly de-scribed as Web 2.0 actually predate the term and were common during the 1990s.4

    BlogsDefinition: A blog (contraction of the term Web log) is a website that provides regular commentary in the form of postings with the most recent at the top of the page (often referred to as reverse-chronologic


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